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CWA strikes against American Red Cross

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WBFO News photo by intern Ashley Hassett
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Communications Workers of America Local 1122 strike outside American Red Cross on Delaware Avenue, Buffalo

By Eileen Buckley

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wbfo/local-wbfo-905465.mp3

Buffalo, NY – Unionized workers are staging a three-day strike against the American Red Cross Blood Services in Buffalo.

About 90 members of the Communications Workers of America Local 1122 are picketing outside the headquarters on Delaware Avenue.

Workers accuse the Red Cross of labor law violations over their health care, pensions and retiree benefits.

Click the audio player above to hear Eileen Buckley's full story now or use your podcasting software to download it to your computer or iPod.

Union president James Wagner also accuses the Red Cross of poor working conditions that could jeopardize the blood safety.

"The Red Cross is a bad, bad, bad employer," said Wagner.

"We are doing this to protest over the National Labor Relations Board complaints and to stop and remedy the harm these charges are bringing our members. After three days, we will walk back and we will continue our mission as need be," said Wagner.

A Red Cross spokeswoman responded by saying the blood supply is very safe.

The union's contract expired last year, but rank and file voted down the latest contract offer. The Red Cross said it is about wages and benefits, not blood at the bargaining table. It is calling for the union to return contact talks.

The Red Cross is planning to close the Buffalo tele-recruiting center in 2011. The work will be moved out of state as part of consolidation.